Published April 11. 2012 4:00AM
Montville - The Town Council voted Monday night to approve an ordinance that raises tax exemptions for low-income veterans.
The ordinance would increase the maximum property tax exemption from $1,000 to $10,000. The ordinance closely mirrors a policy on the books in Preston.
To qualify, single veterans would need an income of $14,000 or less, and those filing jointly with a spouse would need an income of $16,000 or less, according to a state statute. The spouse of a deceased veteran also would be eligible.
Councilor Dana McFee, citing the financial difficulties facing the town, suggested an amendment that would have phased the new exemption in over four years. But that suggestion failed in a vote before the council.
Later, the council voted unanimously to accept the original ordinance as written.
"A little bit really, really helps the low income people," said Councilor Chuck Longton, who said he is a Vietnam veteran.
"Here, we really have a chance to show appreciation for some selfless service that people have been giving for years and years and years."
Finance Director Terry Hart said in a previous meeting of the council's Finance Committee that 148 residents would qualify for the exemption. Ultimately, it would mean about $41,000 less in taxes, considering the maximum tax exemption, the number of residents who qualify and the tax rate.
Those eligible will be required to file the necessary paperwork with the town's tax assessor.
Councilor Billy Caron argued that it was an appropriate gesture for the town.
Council Chairwoman Candy Buebendorf, who sits on the Finance Committee, said the loss in taxes would be minimal. She also provided a counterargument to McFee's suggestion to phase in the exemption over several years.
"I feel that because we're in such a bad economic time, this is the best time to do this for our veterans," Buebendorf said.
A brief round of applause filled the Town Council chambers after the vote to pass the ordinance. A couple of residents also spoke in favor of the veterans' tax exemption at a public hearing that preceded the meeting.
Wills Pike, a 20-year veteran, said it was essential that the council move to adopt the increased exemption for veterans.
"It's a very small debt in our budget for our veterans," Pike said.